Parliament has passed a crucial Bill to ensure equal rights to the people infected with HIV and AIDS in getting treatment and prevent discrimination of any kind. It’s important to study its various provision and flaws involved in the bill.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, prohibits discrimination against people living with HIV (PLHIVs) on grounds of treatment, employment and workplace. It provides for complete confidentiality, helps in safeguarding patients’ rights, and also creates a proper grievance addressing mechanism
Key highlights of the bill
- Prohibition of discrimination against HIV positive persons:It prohibits any kind of discrimination against affected people in terms of employment, admission to educational institutes, renting property, insurance (unless based on actuarial studies) and standing for public or private offices.
- People affected with HIV are entitled to access public facilities such as shops, restaurants, hotel, public entertainment venues, public facilities and burial ground, without any sort of discrimination.
- This bill aims to provide the affected people with proper treatment and access to good health.
- The bill prohibits anyone to publish information or promote hatred against those who are HIV positive.
- It gives provision to the affected person to safeguard his/her property. He/she can live in a shared household without any bias and utilise all the shared facilities.
- Informed consent and disclosure of HIV status:Any HIV test, medical treatment or research would be conducted only after the person’s informed consent. The HIV status would be kept completely confidential, if required, by court’s order.
- Role of the central and state governments: All the HIV affected people to have right to prevention, testing, treatment and counselling services. Therapies such the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and infection management to be provided. The State and the Central Government will also provide welfare schemes especially for women and children.
- The bill also states that priority should be given to cases related to HIV positive persons, at the same time maintaining complete confidentiality.
- Role of the Ombudsman: An ombudsman will be appointed in every state to enquire about complaints regarding violations of the act.
- Court proceedings: Cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed off by the court on a priority basis. In any legal proceeding, if an HIV infected or affected person is a party, the court may pass orders that the proceedings be conducted by suppressing the identity of the person, or in camera, and to restrain from revealing the identity of the person.
- HIV/ AIDS bill passed by the parliament is in alignment with goal of AIDS free world by 2030 of SDGs.
- Social Security: Under the bill, it is a legally punishable offence to deny a person living with HIV/AIDS insurance on the ground of the disease that lowers the immunity.
- It also guarantees protection against discrimination in the field of education, employment, access to housing and healthcare.
- States are given responsibility to implement the law and an ombudsman need to be appointed to look in to the progress of its implementation.
- The most crucial step is that it recognizes the right of a person to keep his health status confidential so that he will not be judged based on his disease.
- It is based on the tenet of stopping the spread of the disease and at the same time helps the infected get antiretroviral therapy
- A person between 12-18 years of the age with sufficient maturity can be at the helm of affairs and can take guardianship of a sibling below 18 years of age.
- The biggest lacuna is that insurance company is allowed to use actuarial calculations to limit access to products to people living with HIV.
- It fails to address the lack of awareness among masses regarding HIV/AIDS
- No step up in funding in healthcare sector to address the medical woes.
- Lack of promise on right to access to anti retro viral drugs and treatment for opportunistic infections.
- It doesn’t guarantee work opportunities for many, especially for families where there’s an ailing working member, no provision to help the family
- There is a lack of political will.
- There is a regional variations in the medical facility available.
- It does not guarantee HIV treatment as the legal right of the patient
- It doesn’t address constitutional ambiguity in this case where in some judgments the SC ordered that the movement of HIV Patients /Sex workers can be restricted, thus forming a basis for discrimination for the HIV affected.
HIV/AIDS bill is a progressive step in fight against the disease. Its effectiveness depends on implementation by the states.
Q. Discuss the features and significance of HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill.
Q. Critically analyse the provisions of the HIV Bill